West Bank – Jusur
The West Bank is one of the two Palestinian territories, where there is often still a taboo on disabilities and where it is still self-evident that children with a visual impairment end up in special education. This often makes it difficult to conquer a valued place in the community as an adult. What makes this challenge even more difficult is that special education is still primarily in the hands of private individuals, who make money from it.
Jusur is Arabic for ‘bridge’. The goal on the West Bank is full inclusion of children with a visual impairment in society. The programme’s goal is to build a bridge between all of those involved: children, parents, BASR, the rehabilitation centre that coordinates this programme in the West Bank, the ministries of education and health care, Al Shuruq school and the low vision centre of AN Najah University.
What have we been doing the first three years?
BASR had the contacts, Visio the knowledge. We combined the two, which, among others, led to the following actions:
- Teachers and rehabilitation staff are trained in how they can support children with visual impairments. They have also learned how to train colleagues (train the trainer).
- Protocols have been established for teachers: how do they recognise visual impairments and to whom do they refer children?
- Parents were brought together to talk about the subject with each other and to give them advice on how to deal with their children's disability at home.
- Methods have been established to monitor children with visual impairment in their development.
- Numbers have been investigated. This revealed, for example, that there is a large group of children with multiple disabilities. There are no facilities for those children yet.
- Following on the previous point: the Al Shuruq school is the first private school to make the transition from a special school for children with a visual impairment to a so-called ‘resource school’, where children with multiple disabilities can go too.
- There are many meetings for professionals from the field and responsible authorities from ministries and local authorities. The purpose of these meetings is to promote cooperation; to eventually set up a sustainable system to support people with visual impairments.
What is the challenge in future years on the West Bank?
The foundation for the bridge has been laid: the mindset is changing. That foundation is still fragile though, but already strong enough to start building the bridge. In other words: ensuring that children with a visual impairment join in. So not only children from 6 to 12 years, who we mainly focused on during the first three years, but children and young people from 0 to 18 years. With the ultimate goal: ensuring that people with and without disabilities meet each other across the bridge ...